‘The dynamics of water innovation’ book launch

Author Dr Paul O’Callaghan is the founder and CEO of water technology market intelligence company BlueTech Research, and executive producer of the Netflix documentary Brave Blue World. Research for the book, which is published by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), was carried out at Wageningen University under Cees Buisman, professor of environmental technology, who is a co-author, along with water technology research analyst Lakshmi Adapa.

Dr Paul O’Callaghan

Through analysis of multiple case studies from the field of water and wastewater processing, including UV treatment, ultrafiltration membranes, and membrane bioreactors, the authors reveal what stakeholders can expect in terms of timelines for technology adoption by utilities, municipalities and industry.

The authors explored company archives and interviewed innovators working over the last 40 years. This comparative information provides the basis for a new water technology adoption (WaTA) model, created for the circumstances of water sector innovation, and drawn from existing cross-sector models.

The WaTA model includes a practical set of criteria to generate planning and decision making for innovators and investors. These criteria were applied to water technologies to test the model’s suitability, and six case studies are used to demonstrate differences in timelines for technologies moving along the innovation pathway to full commercialisation.

The model and criteria give water innovators a method to plan and track developments. O’Callaghan sees the book as an opportunity for universities to strengthen the outcomes of their research and their offer to students.

Ultrafiltration is one of the process technologies explored (Image: Toray)

“At BlueTech Research, our analysts use this knowledge on a daily basis to inform our research advisory services and the recommendations we make to strategic investors, corporations, solutions providers, innovators and entrepreneurs,” Dr O’Callaghan said.  

The pace and scale of innovation emerging to address problems at the global and local level — including flooding, environmental pollution and leakage — makes it important to ensure investment in water innovation is as informed and targeted as possible, with realistic allocation of time, capital and other resources.

The authors outline the 10 areas of anticipated growth over the next decade — from digital solutions, to decentralised treatment, to point-of-use systems, and make clear that systemic change is essential to meet the challenges of population and climate.

Having previewed the book, Veolia Water Technologies CTO Glenn Vicevic said, “[It] builds on the authors’ exploration of innovation in the space, and leads the reader to a practical framework that will be adopted by stakeholders.”